‘Fauxsumerism’ is the latest retail trend, apparently

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Photo: peter zelei

Anyone else sick and tired of internet articles deconstructing the behavioural patterns of millenials? 

They’d have you believe that people born after 1982 are the worst kinds of people. Among the findings, we’re self-obsessed, chronically work-shy winos. And now, you can add ‘tight’ to that growing list of character traits. 

According to WWD, retailers are having difficulty “converting browsers into buyers” due to our tendency to endlessly put off online purchases. Though many retailers have chosen to focus on the millennial demographic, believing their spending power is likely to grow, this isn’t translating into sales. 

They’re calling it ‘fauxsumerism’. A study conducted by the Intelligence Group polled 1,300 millenials aged between 18 and 34 and a subset of Gen Z’ers between 13 and 17 and found that, though we’re heavily invested in fashion, we’ll only enter our credit card details at the virtual checkout when it’s deemed absolutely necessary. 

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The Intelligence Group’s Jamie Gutfreund commented to WWD, "After the recession, these customers got used to being more careful about spending money. A lot of things have popped up to fill the gap." 

"These customers sleep with their phones," Gutfreund stated. "They can get the best deal, sometimes an extraordinary deal, in a second. Their reasoning is that they can get something at a great price that also happens to be fabulous." 

To put it simply, we like browsing, but not buying. We satiate our fashion cravings through uploading items into carts and adding them to our online wish lists before closing the page and continually checking back until eventually, a pesky baby boomer snaps it up first. 

Don’t get us wrong. Gen Y and Gen Z'ers are just as, if not more, materialistic as previous generations. We just can’t afford as much ‘stuff’ (read: as many Supreme snapbacks and pairs of limited-edition Nikes and Birkenstocks) and as our parents. 

This anti-spending attitude may come as a surprise to retailers, especially given the millenials’ penchant for overstaying our welcome in the family nest and jamming funnels into our parents’ pension funds, but there are other factors those companies may not have considered… 

–  Our housing angst. We came of age in a time when the promise of homeownership was turned completely on its head. 

–  Too many online distractions. Who can conjure enough focus to enter a billing address when you’re charting Faceyland and cyber-stalking Shailene Woodley and Nicholas Hoult in other browser windows? 

–  That festering pile of student debt. Who among us could afford to pay up front? And on top of that, too-high phone bills as a result of refreshing Instagram every three seconds in bed/on the bus/at work/every second we’re awake. 

–  Blowing our monthly budgets on eating organic, wearing fair-trade and keeping up with the latest celebrity lifestyle products. Going on multiple Tinder dates a week has also left us with a shortage of coin in our Paypal accounts. 

Add to that exorbitantly high rent and, well, it’s no surprise we’re dealing with a generation of window shoppers who can barely afford packet ramen, let alone the latest items on Urban Outfitters.